Sylvie Massara celebrates 35 years with Walt Disney Imagineering

A privilege reserved only for those who have left their mark on the Disney parks, it’s a rare enough tribute to be dedicated a window on Main Street U.S.A.. Today, Sylvie Massara, Imagineer and Artistic Director, joined this prestigious group at Disneyland Paris for the inauguration of her own window! Celebrating her 35 years with Walt Disney Imagineering, this special tribute recognises her legacy of passion and creativity, which have helped a whole generation of visitors create unforgettable memories. ‘I was so surprised, I have to admit, when I was told the news. I was very honoured, of course, and very, very moved, because I wasn’t expecting it at all.

A new window on Main Street U.S.A.

It’s a tradition started by Walt Disney himself in 1955, the year Disneyland opened in California. The shops along Main Street U.S.A. had to be named, and there was no better way to thank those who had contributed to the park’s opening than to give them the names of actual employees. This method was adopted not only in the original Magic Kingdom, but also in Disney parks all over the world!

Sylvie’s window is located at the beginning of Main Street, above Ribbons and Bows Hat Shop. Like the other dedicated windows in the park, hers has a theme, in this case the three decades of her interior design work, and bears the words ‘New Century Interiors, Sylvie Massara, Proprietor, “All-time designs for all times”.

35 years with Walt Disney Imagineering

Sylvie began her career with Walt Disney Imagineering when Disneyland Paris was built in 1988, as part of the team responsible for the layout and interiors of Fantasyland. Sylvie explains: ‘I travelled to Italy and England to follow the manufacture of furniture. In particular, I worked on the Cottage of the Seven Dwarfs, La Bottega di Gepetto, and the Puppet Chalet, which was called Village House at the time.

After the park’s opening and a brief year in Glendale spent developing the first concepts for what was to become the destination’s second park, she returned to France to work for Design and Show Quality, the team that keeps Disney’s magic alive.

In 1996, she was given the opportunity to work specifically on the hotels at Disneyland Paris, a role she has never left since. In 2010, as part of an ambitious transformation plan, Sylvie and her team were tasked with reimagining every hotel in the destination, starting with Disney Sequoia Lodge in 2010 and culminating in the royal transformation of the Disneyland Hotel earlier this year.

‘In my opinion, it’s much more challenging to work on and transform an existing hotel than to start from scratch and build a new one. For the Disneyland Hotel, we pushed back our limits to bring in an even higher level of detail by adapting the technology to add special effects, something I’d never done before when redesigning a hotel’ – shares Sylvie.

Looking back on her career, Sylvie says: ‘What has been essential all these years is working with the Imagineers and Cast Members to bring dreams to life, and always to inspire our visitors. Seeing the looks on their faces when they enter a reinvented space and noticing that they understand the story we’ve imagined makes me proud to have been part of this experience, along with all the teams involved.’